Inside The Bills

Lal: Easley ahead of schedule

Posted by Chris Brown on May 26, 2016 – 2:12 pm

There’s no specific timetable for Marcus Easley to return from offseason surgery that he had back in January, but the signs at this point are encouraging.

That according to Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who appeared on the John Murphy Show. Lal knew it was going to be a long rehabilitation for Easley, but is confident he’ll come through the extensive rehab successfully.

“If there’s anyone who can, and it was a devastating injury and he was here all winter,” said Lal of Easley. “I saw the rehab that he went through and you have to admire how hard he worked and the mentality he had because that was tough on him. He’s coming through it all ahead of projections.”

Easley dislocated his kneecap and then shattered his patella in three places in last season’s Week 16 game against Dallas.


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Easley progressing in rehab

Posted by Chris Brown on February 19, 2016 – 12:26 pm

He was covering a punt against the Cowboys in Week 16, and on a freak play running downfield after he was shoved by a Dallas player, his knee cap was dislocated and as he went to the ground the knee cap was shattered into three pieces. It helped explain why Marcus Easley was in tears from the pain before being carted off the field. Easley joined the John Murphy Show to talk about how his offseason rehab is going.

“I’ve made a lot of progress,” said Easley. “It’s been nothing but uphill since the end of the season. I’m getting around a lot better now and healing up real well. I’m getting better every day.”

Easley has dealt with different knee injuries in the past, but in his estimation they don’t compare to this one.

“This is the most severe injury that I’ve had to deal with,” he said. “It’s been tough. The first couple of weeks out of surgery was rough, but things are definitely looking up now and I’m healing fine which is all good.

“Things are kind of slow and steady knowing that bones were broken. There’s only so much you can do because the body has to heal itself. Over time as things heal you can begin to develop all the muscles around it and get stronger.”


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Easley with long road ahead

Posted by Chris Brown on January 5, 2016 – 2:22 pm

Bills WR Marcus Easley came to locker clean out day Monday on crutches. His left leg in a full length immobilizer cast. The special teams ace, injured while covering a return, explained how his knee cap was dislocated and then broken in three places.

Two Dallas Cowboys were trying to run Easley down as he had gotten past them covering the kick. One of the Dallas players bumped him from the side just as he put his left foot down on the ground in a full sprint.

“I got pushed on my right side while my left leg was planted and it pushed my knee cap out to the side and all my momentum dislocated the knee cap and then when I fell it was the fall that broke the knee cap in three places,” said Easley. “It’s the most pain I have ever felt.”

Easley was in obvious pain down on the field and was carted off. Now he’s looking at a long offseason rehabilitation.

“Seven to nine months,” Easley said. “They say I should make a full recovery.”

His knee cap has already been re-set and now the healing must begin before Easley can begin the rehab process.


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Rex: Easley suffers major knee injury

Posted by Chris Brown on December 28, 2015 – 2:30 pm

He was carted off the field Sunday with a left knee injury. On Monday head coach Rex Ryan revealed just how severe the injury was for Marcus Easley.

“He should be back for next season, but this is a major, major injury,” said Ryan. “Obviously he’ll go on I-R. He dislocated his knee cap, but also broke his knee in three spots. A devastating injury there. However, they say he’ll be able to come back from it. It’s going to take time, but he should be fine. We all know how tough he is, but I heard that… they basically said it’s two different injuries. The knee cap comes out and then it breaks the knee. Expect him to go on I-R.”

It was obvious that Easley was in serious pain when he was being helped to the cart to take him to the locker room Sunday. When that roster move on Easley will be made remains to be seen.


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Fan Friday 12-11

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2015 – 1:27 pm

Another ‘backs against the wall game’ for the Bills in Philly Sunday. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

How are the Bills not able to get Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Charles Clay more involved in their offensive attack?  Also, why is FB – Felton on the roster, although he can be an outstanding blocker, the Bills rarely have him on the field?  It seems this Coaching staff is NOT effectively using their Offensive or Defensive players.  Any insight as to why?  The Bills should be getting 3x the production out of their defense than they actual are.

RC from DC
CB: First and foremost the Bills have been getting Sammy Watkins more involved in passing attack. In the first three games he was healthy for this season Watkins was targeted a little over four times a game. In the last five games he’s been targeted seven times a game.

Clay has been targeted an average of six times in the last four games. Woods has been targeted 7.5 times per game over the last four. I think what you’re seeing is a steady maturation of an offense that was brand new to everyone on offense except Boobie Dixon, who ran it in San Francisco.

There were a lot of new pieces that had to blend together in a new system. Even the starting QB was new to it. Getting it all humming together simply takes time. I believe we’re now starting to see it approach critical mass with Taylor playing some of his best football this season right now.

Felton is a role player in the offense. It’s not as big as perhaps some expected, but I will say that the Bills make use of 21 and 22 personnel more than most clubs.

The defense is a bigger enigma. We’ve explained before how Rex admitted he erred in trying to blend some concepts from last year’s system in with his. He’s since scrapped the old system and gone exclusively with his own. I know the fans have criticized him for not taking advantage of what his defensive linemen do best, which is rush the passer. It’s a valid point, but let’s see how the season plays out and make our assessments at that point.

 
2 – Chris,

Why not make Easley a 2nd wide receiver on the opposite side of the field from Watkins to extend the field.  He is a tall, fast, and excellent receiver.  Remember the long touchdown pass he caught earlier in the year.

CB: I think the main reason Easley is not used more on offense is because they see Sammy Watkins as the player who stretches the field for them. Most offenses don’t have two receivers serving the same purpose. Quarterbacks need outlets to throw the ball to on shorter, quicker routes. This is where Robert Woods and Chris Hogan work best. They’re good at gaining separation quickly and serve the offense more effectively for that purpose.

Easley is fast, but he has build-up speed, not sudden burst speed. So filling a role on shorter, intermediate routes is not his greatest strength. He doesn’t get separation as quickly as Woods or Hogan.

 

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for all the Bills coverage throughout the year. I have two questions for you. Before Marcus Easley against the Texans who was the last Bills offensive player to have an interception?  Also, which Bills players deserve Pro Bowl consideration?  I think Darby, Gilmore, Graham, Wood, Incognito, McCoy,  Taylor, Schmidt and Easley all deserve to be considered. Which of those deserve to make it, and am I’m forgetting anyone else that should be considered?

Thank you,
Matthew
London, ON

CB: Easley is the first Bills player whose primary position is on offense to post an interception. As for Pro Bowl consideration I think Richie Incognito should be on that list. With the drop-off in play that Nick Mangold has had I’d like to think that opens the door for Eric Wood. I like the season that Stephon Gilmore has put together. Corey Graham might get some support, but I don’t know if there will be enough to put him through. Darby has played great, but rookies rarely get the votes, especially at DB unless they have nine or 10 INTs, like Jairus Byrd did back in 2009. LeSean McCoy is definitely in the mix. I think Colton Schmidt is in a tough spot because only one punter goes.

 

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills If something happens to Darby or Leodis, who is back up CB? Graham with D. Williams in at safety? Butler?

Joe_Tauriello

CB: It would be Mario Butler who steps in on the boundary if Darby or Leodis are injured. If there’s a second injury I could see your scenario potentially happening with Graham out to corner and then a sub at safety.

When McKelvin was still on the Non-Football Injury list, Butler served as the first corner off the bench behind Darby and Gilmore. So I would anticipate that to be his role again now with Gilmore down this week.

 
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Rob Ryan just visiting as a family member or is he providing any type of insight into our NFC opponents?

cfenton23

CB: Rex Ryan’s brother Rob was here for a visit, something he and his brother don’t get to do very often during football season. The two share a birthday on Sunday, so they’ve presumably had a pre-celebration together. Rex said his brother is heading out of town Saturday before Rex and the Bills leave for Philadelphia.

As for preparing for NFC opponents, I’m sure if Rex asked about Philadelphia this week or Washington and Dallas in the coming weeks he had no problem offering up some details. I remember Rex as coach of the Jets admitting to me on a conference call that he called his brother Rob to give him the update on the Bills when Buffalo played the Saints in 2013.

So that kind of talk between brothers is very plausible.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Another first for Easley

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2015 – 11:56 pm

He’s been on Buffalo’s roster for the better part of the last five seasons, but it’s taken this his fifth season to get a couple of major firsts in his career. In Week 7 he posted his first career touchdown reception on a 58-yard catch and run. In Week 13 against the Texans he had another first.

Easley recorded his first career interception on the last play of the game. Buffalo was up nine so it was a two-score game, but in seeing how the Detroit Lions lost on a Hail Mary pass Thursday night, the Bills were practicing it as part of their weekly situational football.

With Easley a long and tall 6-3 and 225 pounds he was stationed back in the end zone along with a couple of other defenders to protect the scoring territory. Brian Hoyer heaved a pass to the end zone, but Easley went up and intercepted it.

“We went over it Friday and Saturday’s walk through,” said Easley. “After the way Detroit lost, it was something Rex felt we had to implement to prevent something like that from happening.”

For Easley it was the first interception of his career.


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News encouraging on Easley

Posted by Chris Brown on November 30, 2015 – 4:10 pm

He missed Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion against the Patriots in Week 11. But head coach Rex Ryan is encouraged by the progress made by Marcus Easley.

“Easley, we’re getting good news on him.  He looks like he’s turning the corner,” said Ryan. “He’s still in that concussion protocol so that’s out of our hands. I think we feel pretty good about that.”

Ryan is hopeful that Easley will complete the concussion protocol and be back on the field Sunday against Houston, but knows nothing is certain at this point.


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Easley added to injury report

Posted by Chris Brown on September 24, 2015 – 6:26 pm

UBNS imageBills special teams ace Marcus Easley was added to the injury report Thursday with a back injury, but was still able to participate on a limited basis in practice. Here’s a look at the Bills updated injury report for Thursday.

Head coach Rex Ryan on Easley and his other limited players.

“He just did something I guess in practice yesterday, but he was fine,” said Ryan of Easley. “I think all these guys will be fine.”

Ryan said the only question mark is Goodwin, who is trying to return from a rib injury.

DID NOT PRACTICE
S Aaron Williams – neck

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DE Jerry Hughes – wrist
WR Marcus Easley – back
LB Tony Steward – knee
WR Marquise Goodwin – rib

FULL PARTICIPATION
QB Tyrod Taylor – chest
RB LeSean McCoy – hamstring
WR Percy Harvin – hip
P Colton Schmidt – hip
K Dan Carpenter – abdominal


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A few players dinged vs. Carolina

Posted by Chris Brown on August 15, 2015 – 12:30 am

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said he doesn’t believe any of them are serious, but there were some players nicked up after Friday’s game against Carolina.

Ryan addressed DT Corbin Bryant’s injury first since he was the first to exit the game Friday.

“It was a knee, so I’m not sure how bad it was, but he went out with a knee,” said Ryan. “Easley went out with a knee, I think it was a grade one MCL (sprain) on him. I’m not sure about Corbin yet. (Marcus) Thigpen had an ankle, not serious. Then (DE Jarius) Wynn had a knee so we’ll see how those things work. My understanding is none of them are serious. None of them seem to be too bad hopefully.”

Ryan also said that all the players who were inactive for Friday’s game had minor issues and would’ve played if it was a regular season game.


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Crossman: Easley has shot at Pro Bowl

Posted by Chris Brown on July 8, 2015 – 11:10 am

He’s gone a long way in making a name for himself on special teams the past two seasons. Now with the special teams unit coming off a season in which they ranked second in the league overall and a squad poised to end Buffalo’s postseason drought, Marcus Easley could earn himself a Pro Bowl nod as a specialist.

When asked about the chances for Pro Bowl recognition for his ace coverage team player, special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, in a forthcoming one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com, believes it can happen.

“In my opinion absolutely,” Crossman said. “He’s carved a name out around the league for himself the way he’s performed the last two years. A lot of those accolades are garnered by establishing yourself first. You’ve got to have that name recognition that shows you’ve done it at a high level before and then the expectations that people have and are aware of watching you to see if you’re still able to play at that high level. We think he can and we think he will.”

Typical of Easley, the specialist shrugs off thoughts of earning Pro Bowl recognition, choosing instead to focus on team goals first and foremost.

“We’ve got team goals as far as making the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl,” Easley said. “As far as individual success that will come with the team goals. As long as we do our part on offense, defense and special teams guys will get rewarded.”


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Easley big on Rex Ryan

Posted by Chris Brown on March 12, 2015 – 4:45 pm

Marcus Easley, who just re-signed on Thursday, was glad to see that special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was still on the new coaching staff led by new head coach Rex Ryan. Of course he was also pretty excited to see Ryan named as the Bills new head coach.

“I’m a big fan of Rex Ryan,” said Easley. “I’ve talked to several people that have played with him while he was in New York and everyone had nothing but great things to say about him and the way he runs his team, so as you can see from day one it’s a whole new vibe. It’s a whole new atmosphere with him around. I’m very excited for everything he has to offer and bring to this organization.”


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Report: Bills to re-sign Easley, DE Wynn

Posted by Chris Brown on March 12, 2015 – 10:20 am

The Bills are reportedly spending time working on their some of their own free agents. According to reports, both special teams ace Marcus Easley and DE Jarius Wynn will return to the club with new deals.

Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson is reporting that both Easley and Wynn will be re-signed to multi-year deals.

Easley led special teams in tackles for a second straight season in 2014 despite missing six games due to injury. Wynn was a dependable rotational defensive end after being signed as a free agent last offseason.


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Bills want to re-sign Easley

Posted by Chris Brown on February 19, 2015 – 7:53 pm

Bills special teams ace Marcus Easley has led the team in special teams tackles each of the past two seasons. He did it this past year despite missing six games due to a knee injury. Easley however, is an unrestricted free agent. With the dramatic increase in play on special teams in 2014 Buffalo wants to keep a key component of their coverage units in the fold.

“We’d like to get him back. That’s another thing that (Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf is going to work on this week,” said Bills GM Doug Whaley. “He’s a hell of a special teams player and we’re excited and we hopefully can get him back.”

After going from 30th to 2nd in the NFL in overall special teams from 2013 to 2014 the team clearly sees Easley as a key piece to staying near the top of the league in special teams play.


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Crossman on Jets attempted trick kick return

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2014 – 2:32 pm

In the third quarter Sunday with the Jets desperate to get something going to improve their field position, they called a lateral pass on a kickoff return. Fortunately Buffalo’s coverage unit was ready for it.

Bills special teams coordinator Danny Crossman explained what happened.

“That’s a play… we talk and harp on so much stuff and talk about awareness and recognition and seeing certain things and when you looked at our guys in the huddle they were aware of what their formation was right from the get go,” said Crossman. “And what different things they do out of certain situations. So I thought they did a great job of recognizing the play and the front side guys playing the play. The back side guys playing the possibility of a reverse. But it’s like anything in this league when you’re hunting big game, sometimes the big game is hunting you. It’s a play by play thing.”

Crossman is generally happy with what his special teams units have accomplished so far, but truly believes that it just takes one big play against you to reverse the positive momentum you’ve built up all season. So he intends to remain vigilant with his players and hopes to have Marcus Easley and Ty Powell, two key special teams players back after the bye.


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New elements of kicking game fare well

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:22 pm

Heading into Sunday’s season opener, the Bills had a new kickoff specialist and a new punter. Coming out of their overtime victory special teams coordinator Danny Crossman has to be pretty pleased with how they performed.

Colton Schmidt in his first ever appearance for the Bills had five punts in the game. Four of them he dropped inside the 20-yard line effectively flipping the field for most of the contest. His net average was an outstanding 43.2, just a tenth of a yard above his preseason average when he was still with the 49ers.

Buffalo’s coverage unit was good too, but two of Schmidt’s punts were fair catches. In total the Bears had minus-one yard on two punt returns Sunday.

Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay had six kickoffs, five of which went for touchbacks.

“I didn’t see the stats, but we talked about rookie punter versus rookie punter (in this game) and we talked about from the special teams challenge was going to be the field position battle,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “Early on (Schmidt) had the not so good one out of the way early and then he hit some really good punts. We let them out the one time on the pass interference call when we had them down there on the six. On our kickoffs the one time they brought it back we stopped them. Our specialists did a nice job.”

Marcus Easley had a pair of tackles on coverage teams and Dan Carpenter was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals including a 50-yarder.


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Fan Friday 6-6

Posted by Chris Brown on June 6, 2014 – 12:02 pm

Two weeks of OTAs are in the books with a week to go beginning this coming Monday. As always we’ll have full coverage here on Buffalobills.com. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I liked what Bills did in rounds 1,2,3 however they did not address DE. Manny Lawson has never played end and Wynn is a bubble player at most. Hughes is more of a situational pass rusher. I’m a bit concerned what they are doing. Since they won’t blitz as much the DE’s are more important under Schwartz. This puts more pressure on young DB’s as well. What do you think the future is at DE for 2014?

CB: I don’t know that you can assume that this defense under Schwartz won’t blitz as much. From what I’ve witnessed in OTAs with the blitz packages going in there are an array of packages that Schwartz has in his playbook. How often he uses them remains to be seen.

Lawson and Hughes will likely split the right defensive end role with Lawson in on more obvious run downs and Hughes on passing downs.

What you might need to consider is how often Schwartz’s defenses in the past have put an opponent in a situation where blitzing is not necessary.

Knowing that Schwartz’s Detroit defense last season finished first in the league in third down conversion percentage allowed (30.3%) and were second in the league in red zone defense (Bills were 14th and 6th) I’m going to give Buffalo’s defensive coordinator the benefit of the doubt that he’ll know when to blitz and how often to do so.


2 –
Hi Chris
I’m a long time Clemson fan and enjoyed watching C.J. Spiller returning kicks. He is one of the best I have ever seen at it and I billeve he could challenge Devin Hesters records. With the need at special teams, Do you think the Bills should try C.J. returning kickoffs? He does hold the FBS record for kickoff return touchdowns with 7.

Thanks, Chris Gerland

CB: It’s funny that you bring this up. As I wrote in our OTA practice notes column earlier this week C.J. Spiller was one of the kick returners in practice along with T.J. Graham and Leodis McKelvin. Spiller hasn’t returned a kick for the Bills since 2011, but it looks as though he’s at least being considered for the 2014 season. That being said I wouldn’t get excited about this possibly happening until we see it in a preseason game.


3 –
Hi Chris,

With the new additions at cornerback, and a new defensive coordinator, it almost seems like Nickell Robey has been getting lost in the mix, after a productive rookie campaign.

I’ve been wondering, has their been any talk about trying him out at safety as a possible replacement for Byrd?

Between his solid tackling and his playmaking ability, I think he could transition well into the role, which would also serve to reduce his height concerns. Jim Leonhard has had a decent career at FS for a shorter defensive back.

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Thank you,
John
CB: I don’t think you have anything to worry about with Nickell Robey. First, Robey has looked solid in his nickel corner role. Yes, he will have competition, chiefly in the form of Corey Graham, but knowing how much New England goes four wide as well as other opponents on Buffalo’s roster like Denver, Detroit, Kansas City and Green Bay chances are Buffalo will need to make use of both of those slot defenders.

To help you breathe easier about Robey’s role on this team I’ll refer you to a recent quote by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Robey.

“If you measure heart, if you measure things like that, he’s six-foot ten,” said Schwartz of Robey. “He’s been a guy that’s been impressive and it hasn’t just been from watching practice here.  Watching last year’s tape.  He’s very unique in some of the quickness he has.  He’s got great anticipation, sees the game very well and he’s certainly going to have a role. He’s been one of best players through our OTAs so far.” 


4 –
Hi Chris,

Thank you for all you do. Let me start by saying I’m extremely happy with our draft this year! My question is regarding our depth at the receiver position. I think it may be difficult for a guy like TJ Graham to make it on the field. Another guy I like is Marcus Easley. I know Easley helped out, and excelled on special teams last year. Do you think that they might keep a guy like TJ, and utilize his speed on special teams? If not I’m afraid I don’t think he’ll make the roster. I look forward to hearing your opinion!
Thanks,
Dan Edel
Buffalo native, teaching English in Thailand

CB: I do think T.J. is in for an uphill battle due mainly to the fact that additions like Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams are automatically ahead of him on the depth chart. Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin were draft choices deemed as fits by this coaching staff. Graham was inherited.

Add in the fact that the staff likes Kevin Elliott, who could carve out a role on special teams as well and both Graham and Easley will be battling for one of the final spots on Buffalo’s roster with players like Elliott and Chris Hogan, both of whom have shown well thus far in OTAs.


5 –
Chris;
With the trade of Stevie Johnson to the 49ers do they Bills have any financial obligations remaining from his contract?
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Howard
Rochester Hills, MI

CB: The figure I have is $10.225M in dead money, which the Bills can spread over the next three seasons, which is the length that Johnson’s contract ran.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-28

Posted by Chris Brown on February 28, 2014 – 11:56 am

Franchise tags and free agency is up next this offseason, but let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Love all the great work you do in keeping those of us who root for the Bills but no longer live in WNY up to date on the pulse of the organization.  I want to give a shout out to my fellow Bills Backers here in Portland OR.

My question is what do you think the chances are of the Bills making a real push to go after Jimmy Graham in FA? The talk is that the coaching staff wants to add a big target and a pass catching TE for EJ.  With Graham you get both (and maybe the best receiver in the NFL outside of Megatron).

I know he won’t come cheap and they have many TE on the roster but wouldn’t adding him be a major coup for the offense just like Mario was for the defense?  It sure looks like the new regime in buffalo is trying to change the culture and this move would be another big step in that direction. He won’t be cheap and we would have to overpay (see Mario again) to get him but WOW.  Do the Bills have the cap space and upcoming FA room to swing such a deal?

Norm

CB: I don’t anticipate Graham being available on the open market. The Saints know their offense takes a crippling hit without him and will do whatever they have to in order to keep him in the fold.
2 – Chris,

Obviously there is not a Bills fan out there that can thank you enough for all the hard work you do. It shows you love what you do.
Question: I am hearing a lot of talk about drafting a WR come May. I am on board with this pick. With Bills brass bringing in tall WR’s this offseason, I can assume they might want to address this in the draft as well. What I do not get is all the talk about S. Watkins. He is a true top WR, but I already see the same skill set he has in Goodwin, Woods, and Graham. What would be the benefit of adding another receiver of his capability when we the Bills need a tall jump ball receiver?

Dan
Cottonwood, AZ

CB: As outlined by Bills GM Doug Whaley their definition of a big receiver is not based solely on height. We covered this in our NFL combine feature story on Sammy Watkins, who is an example of a big receiver, even though he stands just 6’1”. Here was Whaley’s exact quote in explaining a phrase he likes to use, ‘big wins.’

“At the wide receiver position ‘big wins’ means a guy that plays big,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “He may be six foot, but if he continues to catch the ball away from his body and has long arms, then he’ll play like a 6-4 or 6-5 guy. Now you can also have a guy that’s 6-5, but catches the ball into his body. He doesn’t play big. So it’s not only just the physical measurements of being big, but being able to play big on the field.”
3 – Hey Chris ,

Here’s a quick one for you . Seeing as most all of the experts last year saw the QB class as not very good & the pick of EJ as a reach for the Bills (all but Marrone, Nix, Whaley, & Brandon) do you see us taking a QB if a good one falls in our lap in the later rounds ? Especially seeing as the supposed experts see this years QB class as being a very good one filled with candidates !

Thanks again for your time

Mr T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I don’t think you can rule that out as a possibility knowing the Bills subscribe to the best player on the board philosophy. Of course we’ll have to see what Buffalo does in free agency beforehand.

I’ll also say we need to be mindful of the fact that three of the four quarterbacks on the roster are all young and inexperienced. I’m not sure adding another, unless he’s one of extraordinary value, is of interest to the Bills.

 

4 – Hi Chris, thank you for all the coverage you provide for the Buffalo Bills fans all across the country.

I have two questions for you:

As per the last question I sent you regarding Eric Decker going to the Bills, you said that he would not be a good fit. Ok, I buy that, but how about Kenny Britt or Darius Heyward-Bey? The Bills do need size at the receiving position, and either of these two would provide that.

Also, It has been publicized that the Buffalo Bills will need a veteran backup quarterback to back up E. J. Manuel, in case of another injury. particularly one that can win football games. Two names that come to mind are Chad Henne and Kellen Clemens.

What are your thoughts? As always, I am looking forward to reading your response.

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: Kenny Britt is a talent no question and has size, but his injury history is undoubtedly a concern. The Bills and other NFL clubs will investigate that thoroughly. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a tall and fast receiver, but I’m not sure he’s the bona fide answer the Bills are looking for at the position. We’ll see.

As for the QB free agent market I wouldn’t mind Chad Henne as a backup option. Kellen Clemens is another story. Matt Cassel wouldn’t be a bad option either.

 

5 –  Hi Chris,

Thanks for the coverage.
Q- After watching the Super Bowl seeing Kam Chancellor blow up Denver’s big wideouts and thinking that we might lose Byrd. Do you think if a big receiver is taken in the draft what would it take to get Marcus Easley a look at safety. He was great on special teams and if he’s not being used at receiver why not?
Thanks, Andy (Rochester)

CB: I really doubt that would ever be an option mainly because Buffalo has some young safeties on the depth chart already. I think Duke Williams is a very talented and underrated prospect and will be a good player in this league. I think Jonathan Meeks also has a lot of potential, so there really isn’t a need to move Easley to the other side of the ball.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Aaron, Stevie out; Easley added to report

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2013 – 12:51 pm

Bills WR Stevie Johnson and S Aaron Williams have been declared out for Sunday’s game at New England. Marcus Easley meanwhile was a Friday addition to Buffalo’s injury report.

Easley sustained a knee injury in practice Friday and was listed as a limited participant. He’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Here’s the full rundown of players on Buffalo’s injury report.

OUT
S Aaron Williams – ribs
WR Stevie Johnson – not injury related

DOUBTFUL
QB EJ Manuel – knee

PROBABLE
WR Marquise Goodwin – knee
WR Marcus Easley – knee
RB Fred Jackson – ribs
DT Kyle Williams – achilles


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-20

Posted by Chris Brown on December 20, 2013 – 12:00 pm

Sunday will be step one in trying to post a winning record in the division for the first time since the 2007 season. Let’s see if the Bills can make it a season sweep of the Dolphins. Here’s your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

As a Bills’ fan for decades, I believe coach Marrone is a good coach. The question is whether he can turn around the losing culture. I have a few questions regarding accountability and talents.

What are the Bills going to do with the undependable players? This includes, but not limited to, Steve Johnson, Leodis McKelvin and T. J. Graham.

What is Jairus Byrd’s long term prospect with the Bills? The Bills like to get rid of established players to save a few bucks. In the end, this contributes to a longer wish list for the ever rebuilding process. A
recent example is the Offensive line. My suggestion is to get rid of Steve Johnson and save some money for Byrd’s contract. (Note, The Bills is in the business to make money. I suppose a better product would lead to increased revenue. In this case, a true contender in NFL).

What is the long term plan for the QB position? I mean both first string and backup in this case? While coach Marrone indicated EJ Manuel is the long term solution. I beg the difference. EJ is not playing any
better than JP Losman by comparing their rookie year. Lewis and Tuel are littering their path with interceptions and fumbles. How long do you think these two can keep their job in NFL?

Marcus Easley seems to be doing a very good job in special teams. What is the possibility of moving him to CB if the Bills cannot use him as WR? This may afford the team to get rid of Leodis McKelvin thereby saving more money.

The New England Patriots seem to be able to overcome huge deficit consistently. When playing with the Patriots (as well as other teams), what are the Bills doing to safeguard our calls/signals from being stolen?

Please keep up with the good work.
Regards,
C. J. Wong, Ph.D.

CB: I understand why you feel like the players you mentioned are not dependable. This is where the coaches and front office make their offseason evaluations, but being dependable goes beyond just game day. It’s about being a professional every day of the week in everything that you do. So if the players you mentioned struggle in those areas then they could be at risk with respect to their futures here.

Doug Marrone is only going to keep players on this roster that he feels he can win with the way he wants to win. He has stressed accountability time and again and has been clear in explaining to his players what accountability means. They’ve had all season to prove they’re on board. If they’re not, and only the coaches and their teammates would know for certain if that’s the case, then they won’t be here long term.

As for Jairus Byrd, the safety has said he’s open-minded to staying here long term, which is an improvement in terms of where that situation was this past summer. I think Byrd is smart enough to know that he can really flourish in this defense with the talent he has around him on that side of the ball. Talent that is tied up long term for the most part. Byrd has to be convinced that he can win here and as is usually the case the money has to be right as well.

At the quarterback position EJ is their long term answer at the position. You may not be convinced, but the people that make those decisions are. I believe this offseason will be dedicated to putting more talent around Manuel to help him succeed. We’ve certainly seen flashes of ability. What has me most encouraged is the way in which Manuel performs when the game is on the line. Buffalo has needed a clutch quarterback for the longest time and Manuel has shown he has that ability. With improved talent around him he’ll also be better for the other portions of the game too.

I believe the decision makers still see Jeff Tuel as a developmental type prospect. Thad Lewis is still being evaluated, which is why Sunday’s game is huge for him. He’s proven he’s tough and that he can deliver big plays. Now he has to prove he can learn from his mistakes and improve from some of his shortcomings in the first meeting with Miami. It’s really the perfect litmus test for him.

I completely disagree with your Marcus Easley idea. Easley doesn’t not have the foot quickness to play CB, and Leodis McKelvin is having his most consistent season in a Bills uniform at cornerback. Not to mention he’s playing at very affordable money for his position.

Finally, the reason the Patriots are able to overcome big deficits is primarily one reason and one reason only, they have one of the best quarterbacks in a generation in Tom Brady. End of story.

 

2 – Hi Chris, I live in Western Canada so it is always hard to get coverage on the Bills out here.  So I really appreciate all your updates.

My question is about Stevie Johnson.  It seems every year there is a play that he fails to make that costs us a game.  The game against Pittsburgh in OT where he dropped the wide open pass, the game against the Jets when he again dropped a game winning TD, and of course against the Falcons which just didn’t just cost us that game, but our season.

He is a great receiver, no doubt about that, but I question if he is ever going to be a clutch number 1 receiver.   We all agree that we need a big “go up and get it” receiver.  So if we get that receiver, someone has to go.

I think we should consider trading Stevie Johnson this off season.  Robert Woods is precise in route running and has good chemistry with EJ, and Goodwin and Graham are fast on the outside and can also move inside when needed.   I think Stevie is odd man out and gives us the most return for our buck, plus maybe he is to used to losing in Buffalo.  What do you think we could get for Johnson?  A 2nd rounder or maybe someone like Bowe in KC?

Paddy, Vancouver Canada

CB: I think Johnson is the type of receiver whose return in a trade would be limited. The reason why is he is a possession receiver. He’s a move-the-chains player not a stretch the field, deliver a game-changing play every week type wideout. Johnson is a very unique player with a unique skill set, but he is not going to blow the doors off a defense. All that being said I think at best he’d get you a fourth-round draft choice. Frankly, it might be even less because his contract may not fit the role another team might envision for him, so to take on that salary would likely lead to a team offering less in return like a fifth or sixth-round pick.

3 – Hey Chris,

My question is regarding the offensive line.  How do you see the Bills helping the line in the off season? I know they have to see how guys like JJ ‘Unga pan out over the last 3 games, but if they do go after a guy in the draft, do you see them going after a guy who can be versatile? Are there typically guys who can play guard and tackle?  I would imagine that’s what coaches look for in any player on the field.  Do you think free agency is possible?  Also, do you think Chris Hairston will be able to return to form?
Thanks, Jillian

CB: I would not be surprised if there are wholesale changes made on the offensive line. As I see it the only players who have job security are Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood. Kraig Urbik rebounded real well this past week after a down week in Tampa, but I think he will be pushed for his starting job this offseason and into training camp based on what we saw the past couple of weeks with J.J. ‘Unga. Beyond those three I expect to see change there. I think the organization will look to the draft and free agency to address the offensive line.

 

4 – Chris,
Thanks for the great reporting, week by week for the Bills. Yourself and John Murphy do a great job but My question is based of everything about this youth movement and getting these unknown guys more playing time. I been listening and reading about the guys y’all are naming but I keep seeing this guy left out…. Duke Williams? Why is he not getting involved in the discussions and not getting more reps? What part of his game is lacking that has him buried on the depth chart? Because before the season he was getting hyped up as a utility guy in the secondary, that could play multiple positions. What happened? Please explain that to me.

Brian in South Carolina

CB: Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sure to pass them along to Murph. Duke Williams is a player that has been seeing time mainly on special teams. The reason he has not seen time at safety is because there is quality and experienced talent in front of him in Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard. I do think heading into next season Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks could challenge for bigger roles and what happens with Byrd and Leonhard this offseason with both being free agents will have an impact on that as well.

 

5 – Chris,

I have been surprised at the lack of two back sets the Bills are utilizing this year. I would think this would confuse defenses as Fred is a highly capable pass-blocking back and we all know about CJ’s home run ability with every touch. Would these formations not mix things up and keep opposing defenses off balance… not knowing to expect run or pass?

Also, I am concerned (as are many fans) about the utilization of CJ Spiller. Not in terms of number of plays per game, or on the year, but the play calls he is being used in. They seem to heavily favor running him behind the left or right guards. Why not more screen plays? I think all of us get excited when CJ Spiller has the ball with 3-4 blockers in front of him with the ability to pick and choose which lanes he wants to take.

Thanks!
Jim from Massachusetts

CB: We saw some split backfield in training camp, but there has been very little of it during the season. I do think there is an element of predicitability there when they have only Fred or C.J. on the field in a single back set. Heading into last week’s Jacksonville game I know that Spiller had not been on the field for more than 40 percent of the snaps since Week 2.

However, when he is on the field he got the ball 60 percent of the time. While the usage is admirable I fear that it makes Buffalo’s offense predictable when Spiller is in the backfield.

Jackson is usually on the field in third down situations because they trust him with blitz pickup and blocking assignments.

I don’t know a one-thousandth of what Nathaniel Hackett knows about football, but I do think a split backfield with C.J. and Fred in the offensive backfield on third down could create a lot of headaches for opposing defenses. That’s where I think it could be most useful for Buffalo’s offense.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Other Bills in Pro Bowl running

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2013 – 4:04 pm

With the news coming down that Mario Williams and Kiko Alonso are the leading vote getters among fans at their respective positions for the 2014 Pro Bowl, here are some of the other Bills who are in the hunt at their positions for fan votes.

DT Marcell Dareus – 3rd
DT Kyle Williams – 5th
SS Aaron Williams – 6th
K Dan Carpenter – 10th
ST Marcus Easley – 10th

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said just last week that if the team had a better won-loss record that Marcus Easley would have an excellent chance of being a Pro Bowl special teams player with the success he’s had in coverage.


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Posted in Inside the Bills